Like in any industry, mergers among banks often cause staffing shifts. First Business Bank has benefited from increased bank merger activity over the past several years, bringing on experienced team members who want a culture supportive of their drive, goals, and client focus.

When Bryan Swanson joined First Business Bank as Senior Vice President – Director of Commercial Banking, he’d spent 20 years at one bank through two mergers. He shares why he decided to join First Business Bank, his career path, and his role at First Business Bank helping clients and coaching teammates. 

Prioritizing Culture & Teamwork Environment

“After more than 20 years working for a $1B+ institution that worked hard to understand and service its clients, two mergers later, after two years the culture of the organization had fundamentally changed,” Bryan said. “I took my time and talked with many banks. Ultimately, I chose First Business Bank because I believe the culture best aligns with my values and the way I like to treat clients and coworkers.”

In his discussions with First Business Bank, Bryan said he was impressed with the teamwork that was evident even before working here.

“To date, everyone (and I mean everyone), has a work-together attitude,” he said. “Every job comes with expectations and pressure, but the culture of working together to work forward is a breath of fresh air.”

Building A Career In Banking

Bryan didn’t intend to go into banking, until the right opportunity came along after graduate school. After finishing his master’s degree in business administration from Iowa State, he secured a position with Strong Funds in investment management. After a few years, he was deciding between two opportunities: one working an overnight desk for an investment firm or as a senior credit analyst for a bank.

“After making the decision with my wife that an overnight job wasn’t a fit for our schedules, banking found me,” Bryan said. “I spent four years in credit, working up to a credit officer role until I pursued an opportunity to transition to a commercial banker role. I served in that role until 2014 when I was provided the opportunity to lead the bank’s commercial sales strategy, which included a focus on increasing overall interest margin and non-interest income for the bank. Then in 2019, the first merger hit, followed by a second merger two years later. And now I’m at First Business Bank.”

Serving Clients At First Business Bank

As Director of Commercial Banking, serving the Southeast Wisconsin market, Bryan enjoys his player/coach position. As he works with business leaders to help them achieve their goals, he also collaborates with his coworkers and mentors them.

“I lead the Commercial & Industrial team as a player/coach,” he said. “I enjoy partnering with bankers in advancing opportunities, conveying our value proposition (listening and crafting tailored solutions to meet clients’ needs all while providing a white-glove service level), closing deals, and coaching the team to continue to develop individual strengths.”

Throughout his 20 years of experience, Bryan has learned a lot about the conditions that foster success for himself and as a mentor. His advice for people starting banking careers includes having fun at work and seeking what you need to do your job well, two important belief statements embraced at First Business Bank.

“Surround yourself with people you enjoy working with and work to have fun in the work you do,” he said. “Ask for what you’re looking for and be your own greatest advocate. Develop a plan and be prepared to do what is necessary to accomplish that plan. And never let your philosophy be ‘the end justifies the means.’ ”

Getting To Know Bryan

Outside of helping clients achieve their goals, Bryan enjoys vacationing with his wife and children to warm weather destinations, ski resorts, and U.S. National Parks. They have visited 53 of the 63 National Parks and hope to visit and hike the rest of them before their oldest graduates from college.